Angels Explained – What You Should Know About the Nine Choirs by Dr. Mark Miravalle

St. John Damascene, an 8th century doctor of the Church, captures the mystery of angels with the following quote, “The angels are secondary spiritual lights who receive their brightness from the First Light which is without beginning.  They have no need of tongue and hearing, rather they communicate their individual thoughts and designs to one another without having recourse to the spoken word.  Now, all the angels were created by the Word and perfected by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit and in accordance with their dignity and rank they enjoy brightness and grace. They have no need for marriage because they are not mortal.  They illuminate one another by the essence of their rank or nature.  They are vigorous and prompt in the execution of the divine will.  They watch over the parts of the earth and are set over nations and places in accordance with their disposition by the Creator.”

We can only reap the benefits and power of angels through our freewill and consent.  We have to acknowledge their presence and respond in love.


There is a spiritual battle taking place in the world.  This battle rages around us.  There are two sides.  Side one consists of Jesus, Mary (the second strongest power to the Trinity), Joseph (the patron saint of the universal Church and who is the terror to the demons), the intercession of the saints, the intercession of the souls in purgatory praying for us, and the power of the angels.  Side two consists of the world, the flesh, and the devil together with the other fallen angels.


The truth about angels is found in scripture, tradition, and commentaries from the likes of Dionysius, St Thomas Aquinas, and St Bonaventure (the seraphic doctor).


Basic Principles


What are the angels?

They are spiritual persons created without bodies.

They bridge humanity and divinity.

Their mission is to glorify God and to intercede between divinity and humanity.

Colossians 1 v 16 tells us that they were created at the beginning of time.

The Fourth Lateran Council confirms their creation.

Angels are NOT an extension of the Divine Being.  (New Age teaching)

Angels are NOT produced by other angels.

Each angel was created individually by God as part of His creation.


How do angels know things?

Thomas Aquinas (Summa question #54) tells us that they do not know as we know.  They are infused with all the natural knowledge they need to perform their mission/assignment.


How can they make mistakes?  Why are some angels in hell?

Beyond their natural knowledge, God has revealed to them supernatural knowledge.  Each angel had to go through a moral testing and choose whether or not they were going to make an act of faith.  Some angels, not through error, though through pride chose not to accept God.  The Father revealed the coming of the Incarnate Son of God to the angels.  Lucifer said that he would not lower himself to serve a “god man”.  Some angels chose to follow Lucifer.  Hell was created as a result of this decision which resulted from their pride.  Angels from each of the nine choirs defected.  They still have their power and now use it for Satan.  From the beginning of time we have the principle of the battle between the greatest creation of all time (Jesus) and the most heinous creature of all time (Satan) because of pride.  Fallen angels now desire to bring down as many humans as they can hoping they will experience the distance from God that they have chosen.  A voice is heard in heaven from the 8th choir (archangels) stating, “Who is like unto God? – meaning who dare disagree or act against the voice of God.  This is the Hebrew meaning of the word “michael”.  Through God’s grace, Michael is brought forward in heaven and is given the task of commander of the army of angels in heaven.


How do the angels move and occupy space?

Angels move by exercising their power in a given place versus another. An angel is not contained by space, rather is containing space (Thomas Aquinas)  Like daylight in a room – when drapes are closed the light is not contained.  They may temporarily take on a physical form to fulfill a part of their mission.


What is a choir?

A choir is a community of angels with something in common that are a part of a given hierarchy.


What is a hierarchy?

A hierarchy is a sacred order of beings who participate in divine knowledge and activity and who also guide those inferior to their own sacred order.  A sacred order is an order of harmony, obedience, and submission by which truth, knowledge, and charity is passed on and down.  There are three hierarchies with three choirs in each.


The principle task of the first hierarchy is to contemplate God in His infinite goodness and the proper end of all things.  These highest created beings do nothing but adore God.  This first hierarchy supports the importance of our participation in Eucharistic Adoration. The first hierarchy consists of the choirs of seraphim, cherubim, and thrones.


The second hierarchy receives illumination from the first hierarchy and from that truth governs the material world and nature.  This is God’s way of allowing creation to share in His glory.  The second hierarchy consists of the choirs of dominions, virtues, and powers.


The third hierarchy receives illumination from the second hierarchy on what is to be done and carries it out with particular attention to humans. They serve and direct humanity.  The third choir consists of principalities, archangels, and angels.


Details about each choir

Each choir has some role of intercession for humanity.


Seraphim excel in the love of God.  They are referred to twice in scripture. (Is 6)  They provide unceasing praise and contemplation before the throne of God.  They can also have the function of the purification of man.  (The burning coal placed to the lips of Isaiah).  They desire each man to be perfect in charity.


Cherubim excel in truth and knowledge about God.  They know the divine secrets of God.  They are a source of great wisdom.  They desire man to seek a life of Christian perfection in truth.  The requirement for the arc of the covenant was to contain two cherubim (Exodus 25 v 18).


Thrones represent steadfastness to God.  They infuse into the hearts of humanity the true and sincere spirit of humility.


Dominions have the role of heavenly government.  They have the power to command.  They preside over the virtues and powers.  They govern our senses and subdue our passions.


Virtues move the heavens/cosmos and are associated with miracles. They do everything with a “god-like” energy.  They preserve us from evil and assist us in avoiding temptation.


Powers order how what lower choirs are to do based upon instruction from the higher choirs.  They intercede in battle with evil spirits.


Principalities are the “generals” of the lowest hierarchy.  They are responsible for shifts in power among nations.  Most of the fallen angels were from this choir.  They intercede for obedience to proper authority.


Archangels are “officers” in this hierarchy.  They preside over multitudes of people.  They deliver the most important messages to humanity

(1 Thes 4 v 16)


Angels guard, comfort, and support man.  They protect and guide us to eternal life.  We each have a guardian angel which God created specifically for each of us at creation.  Our angel has been waiting for us since that time.  Angels are NOT recycled.  No human can or will love you or know you like your guardian angel.  God has given them the knowledge necessary for our sanctity and perfection.  Your guardian angel is fused with God’s love for us – a perfect love.  We should have the desire to enter in to a personal relationship with our guardian angel – to pray to them and to thank them for their intervention in our life.


Four ways to cooperate with our guardian angel

Adoration of God – your guardian angel is always with you.  When you are at Mass or in Adoration you are rewarding your guardian angel as it now gets to spend time adoring the Lord as well.  Ask your guardian angel to assist you in your efforts to adore.


Contemplation of God – the angel can help us to penetrate the divine mysteries in love.  This is part of their mission to assist us.


Expiation – the expiation of sins continues in the mystical Body of Christ and the communion of saints by joining our human acts of atonement to the redemptive action of Christ both in this life and in Purgatory. Here and only here our angel depends on us! (because an angel cannot suffer – they do not have bodies) However, our angel can help us by encouraging us to offer our daily sacrifice in reparation to God and the conversion of sinners.


Guidance in our state in life – our angel has been given an awareness of what we are suppose to do for holiness in our vocation.  So, at times of difficulty and at times requiring decision, we should ask our guardian angel for guidance.


Prayer of Consecration to Your Guardian Angel (Opus Angelorum)

O Holy Angels of God, here, in the presence of the Triune God and in the love of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer, I, (your name), poor sinner, want to make a covenant with you, who are his servants, so that in union with you, I might work with humility and fortitude for the glory of God and the coming of his Kingdom. Therefore, I implore you to assist me, especially – in the adoration of God and of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar,  – in the contemplation of the word and the salvific works of God, -in the imitation of Christ and in the love of his Cross in a spirit of expiation, – in the faithful fulfillment of my mission within the Church, serving humbly after the example of Mary, my heavenly Mother, your Queen. And you, my good guardian angel, who continually behold the face of our Father in heaven, God entrusted me to you from the very beginning of my life. I thank you with all my heart for your loving care. I commit myself to you and promise you my love and fidelity. I beg you: protect me against my own weakness and against the attacks of the wicked spirits; enlighten my mind and my heart so that I may always know and accomplish the will of God; and lead me to union with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.



The truth about angels doesn’t have any value unless we make a commitment to enter into a relationship with our guardian angel.  The salvation and sanctification of souls depends on it.  We are challenged to ask our guardian angel to help us to grow in our love for them and to allow them to lead us toward our sanctity.  The more you consent to the influence of your angel, the more God permits the angel to exercise influence over us.  It is always based upon our freewill/decision.